HIV data leak: 'Mikhy Brochez' Facebook account removed for violating user policies

Wong Casandra
Senior Reporter
Mikhy Farrera-Brochez. (PHOTOS: mugshots.com, screenshot of Mikhy Brochez/Facebook)

The Facebook account of a user claiming to be the American conman at the heart of a massive HIV data leak was removed early Thursday (14 February) morning by the social media giant for violating user policies.

Yahoo News Singapore understands that the removal of the account was not related to a government request but due to the severity of its violations, specifically Facebook’s privacy and bullying policies under its community standards.

It was removed less than 24 hours after the user, a “Mikhy Brochez”, published the first of several posts detailing multiple allegations against the Singapore government and other named individuals.

The alias is one of several purportedly used by 34-year-old Mikhy Farrera-Brochez, who was pinpointed by the Ministry of Health (MOH) last month as the culprit behind the HIV registry leak containing confidential data of 14,200 HIV-positive individuals and 2,400 others who were identified through contact tracing.

Responding to media queries, a Facebook spokesperson said the policies “outline what stays up and what comes down” so that those using the platform “feel safe”.

“Under these policies, we remove content or accounts that share medical information on others and any content that poses a credible threat of harm to others,” said the spokesperson. “The consequences for breaching our community standards vary depending on the severity of the breach.”

The policies also disallow users from posting content claiming sexual activity with named private individuals.

One of the posts, which contained screenshots of emails allegedly sent to various government agencies in 2016 regarding the data leak, had been earlier taken down on Wednesday for similar reasons, according to a screenshot uploaded by “Brochez”.

A screenshot of a post made on 13 January, 2019. (Mikhy Brochez/Facebook)

It was subsequently reinstated but taken down shortly after the authorities issued their statements on Wednesday night to rebut what they termed as “baseless” allegations made by a “pathological liar”.

Two posts pertaining to the HIV data leak remained online, however, before “Brochez”‘s profile page was taken down at about 2am on Thursday. Each had been attached with an alleged screenshot of a letter exchanged with an American lawmaker and an American physician detailing “Brochez”‘s HIV-positive status, respectively.

Among several allegations “Brochez” made included being sexually assaulted while in prison in Singapore and contracting HIV, or human immunodeficiency virus, from the incident in 2016, and not in 2008 as the government claimed.

Brochez was then serving a 28-month jail term for fraud and drug-related offences. He was deported from Singapore in April last year.

The Facebook user claimed that two individuals – who were named in one of the deleted posts – had stolen the HIV registry in 2012. In it, he had also linked one of the individuals’ work profile, which contained contact details.

He had alleged that the same individual had a “sexual” relationship with Ler Teck Siang, 37, Brochez’s partner. Ler served as the head of the MOH’s National Public Health Unit from March 2012 to May 2013 and oversaw the HIV registry.

The individual also harassed the couple, broke into their house on multiple occasions, and stole Ler’s work computer, according to “Brochez”. 

As of the publication of this story, “Brochez”‘s Facebook profile remains inaccessible.

University ‘qualifications’ of Brochez’s mother

Yahoo News Singapore had sent media queries to email addresses seen in some of the attached screenshots. In response, an individual who identified himself as Brochez claimed that the “Lee regime” had his posts removed as “they are contrary to the fake news being spread” by local media.  

The individual ignored Yahoo News Singapore’s requests for proof of identification.

Replying to a request for a video interview, he said, “I don’t use Skype.”

Apart from repeating the allegations that were made in the deleted Facebook posts and a recent interview with US-based Vice News, the individual also referred to an interview he gave to Singapore tabloid The New Paper in 2010.

In it, the then-Temasek Polytechnic lecturer had credited much of his success to his mother Teresa King, “a renowned professor of child and adolescent psychology, child neurology and gifted science and mathematics education in the UK”.

British daily The Independent later found that a UK-registered psychologist of the same name confirmed that Brochez was not her son and that she did not specialise in any of the aforementioned areas.

“I’ve not lied about my mother.  My mother has nothing to do with this. Someone somewhere misinterpreted the UK, University of Kentucky, as the United Kingdom,” the individual said in his reply to Yahoo News Singapore.

“Now, I’m being called a pathological liar over another person’s mistake,” he added, referring to Wednesday’s statements by local authorities and Senior Minister of State for Law and Health Edwin Tong.

Tong had written in a Facebook post, “Mikhy Brochez lied about the identity of his mother, he lied about his own identity in his passport, he lied about his educational qualifications, he lied about his HIV positive status, and he is now lying about what he did. He is a pathological liar.”

In a follow-up email to Yahoo News Singapore, the individual said that he would be writing a letter to Tong “shortly”.

He added that he would be “dropping some evidence” to support his claims that Dr Leong Hoe Nam, an infectious disease specialist who treated Brochez in prison, had given him a list of HIV-positive prisoners and originally told him that he did not have HIV. 

Dr Leong has denied the allegations.

In the email, the individual had attached a photo of a scrap of paper with the words “HIV elite controller, checkpoint inhibitors” written on one side, claiming that it was written by Dr Leong and passed to him.

He claimed that the other side – which could not be seen – contained confidential medical data of patients Dr Leong had treated.

The individual also made fresh allegations against a purported investigation officer in Singapore. He named the officer and claimed that the police deputy superintendent was removed from handling his case in 2016.

“If there was no wrong(doing), then he wouldn’t have been removed.  This is reflected in the transcripts of my husband’s (Ler’s) trial but the court won’t release them or mine,” said the individual.

He again insisted, “I was not HIV positive (in 2008). The Singapore police did torture me.”

Yahoo News Singapore has reached out to the University of Kentucky to verify his claims.

In response to media queries, the police requested for Yahoo News Singapore to refer to the joint statement issued with the Singapore Prison Service on Wednesday.

Brochez is believed to be currently on bail in his home country after being arrested for trespassing his mother’s home in Kentucky’s Clark County in December last year.

According to media reports, he has been ordered to appear before a district court on 18 February (US time) to face a third-degree criminal trespass charge.

More Singapore stories:

American behind HIV data leak a ‘pathological liar’ who made ‘baseless’ allegations: Singapore authorities

HIV data leak: AGC did not charge Brochez under OSA in 2016 as he would have faced only light sentence

HIV data leak: Some affected patients reportedly ‘feeling suicidal’, says Gan Kim Yong

HIV data leak: MOM takes ‘risk-based approach’ in assessing employment pass applications

HIV data leak: Affected persons can sue MOH but proving damages would be hard, lawyers say

Singapore’s HIV data leak: 5 burning questions to ask MOH and others

Singapore’s HIV data leak: A recap of what we know so far